Bandcamp Picks

Bandcamp Pick of the Week 5/10/2024


It’s our Bandcamp Pick of the Week, featuring Rural France’s exclamatory power pop record EXACTAMONDO!

Rural France Album Cover

Rural France – EXACTAMONDO!

Genre: Power Pop

Favorite Tracks: “Guideropes,” “Packhorse”

Despite my ever-dwindling personal peace, I’ve thought increasingly about my hesitance toward pop punk. My devotion is right there—sweet pop and savory punk coalescing!—and yet I remain mostly disconnected (outside infrequent dalliances). It’s a dynamic made all the more confounding when I consider how much I love pop rock and power pop. With EXACTAMONDO!, the UK’s Rural France exemplify and encapsulate how to combine sugary pop and vinegary rock into a life-affirming concoction—and something altogether more (contextually) scrumptious.

The band are melody maestros. “The Song She Skips” is like the sweetest, most syrupy Teenage Fanclub jam. “Blabbermouth,” meanwhile, adds country tinges that augment a joyous core. Their melodies aren’t just fun; they “carry words with some tension… that fight against the sunny pop.” That’s key: there’s both an edge and intellect informing and extending these melodies, hinting at grander ideas and emotions bubbling just below. The tension, really, is added texture for an active, engaging experience. You can hear it even further in “Guideropes”—as they speak on Peter Pan-ian missteps, the effervescence abounding captures that split of romanticism and utter annoyance at our bumbling amigo. But this record is more than its melodic magnificence. “The Boy With the Shortest Fuse” is beyond a jangly banger, and its specific phrasing bypasses the tenuousness and tension for something revealing and somewhat prickly. “Packhorse” is similar enough—about people meeting on a reality show who see their courtship sour—and there’s new dimensions to the mix of charm and emotional-stuntedness, catchiness and unseemliness. These tracks extend the core tension beyond the sonically scrumptious—a umami truth bomb under all of that bubblegum that sours the slacker vibes. It colors album closer “Prize Goose” as less of a loser’s anthem and more a ballad for a grown man who thinks being a goose is his biggest concern.

Have Rural France revealed the cynical, bitter heart behind power pop and pop punk? Maybe, but then that ignores how genuinely sweet and earnest they are sonically/lyrically. What’s really happening, I’d reckon, is less about the tension but rather instilling EXACTAMONDO! with a grander narrative arc—a celebration of the trajectory of life between sweet and sour. Both ideas and energies are always there, and whether Rural France undercut joy with heartache, or color sadness with optimism, we connect in an experience that’s hugely exciting. It tests our emotional strength with everything from subtle gazes (“Packhorse”) to a full-on gutshot (“Blabbermouth”)—and that’s not only how life works but is a commentary about genres developing, the fan-artist relationship and what we really seek from music.

Rural France have made good on their genre’s true potential: humor and levity not as a mask or salve, but a part of heartache/heartships that make life more robust and endearingly complicated. EXACTAMONDO! demonstrates that it’s not about the sour and the sweet clashing, but the apartment available at that robust intersection. You can hear and feel it across the LP: life sucks and rules simultaneously, and the magic’s mostly yours to find. Listen to it now over on Bandcamp

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Chris Coplan
Chris Coplan is a writer based out of Phoenix, Arizona. After graduating from Northern Arizona University in 2008, he's worked as a music reporter/critic, marketing copywriter, and resume editor/writer. (Also, two months spent at a tennis club.) His journalism and non-fiction have appeared in CONSEQUENCE, TIME, AIPT, COMPLEX, and PHOENIX NEW TIMES, among others. He lives near the Melrose District with his wife, stepdaughter, a handsome dog, and two emotionally manipulative cats.

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